Food strategies for the New Year 

Experts promote mindful eating and being social

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This is the second week of January and already most of your friends who resolved to exercise more and eat better are back to eating chips, drinking calorie rich sugared water and spending hours on the couch watching TV.

New Year's resolutions involving changes in eating and exercise habits are often no-win empty commitments doomed to fail. Most people just aren't set up to turn around their lifestyles quickly and most people don't put checks and balances in place to ensure they stick to resolutions made at the end of December.

Resolutions at the end of the year often come down to one common goal: achieving an ideal body weight.

This often involves strategies that include eating less, eating smarter, exercising more, generally being more active and altering sleeping habits.

The experts in the field of weight loss have revealed the "secret" to losing weight is simple: exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet. All fine and dandy but to achieve those things something more is needed.

Marnie Melsted of Sea to Sky Nutrition Services says she hates resolutions and when it comes to weight loss the thing to do is to focus on healthy eating.

"When we're really focused on the number on the scale it can be really disappointing and discouraging for people and I generally don't recommend that people weigh themselves all the time," says Melsted. "Go by how you feel. When you start to eat a healthy well-balanced diet you start to feel better."

Melsted is a strong believer in the 50 – 50 theory, stressing that exercise is the other half of the health equation.

"You can't just start eating well and expect to drop the pounds," she says. "They go hand in hand."

Melsted is a big proponent of what she calls mindful eating. This involves being highly aware of what is being eaten and focusing on the act of eating as it happens.

"The practice of mindful eating is about learning how to eat, it is not about what you eat, so much," says Melsted.

She believes it helps to be aware of things like taste, smell, appearance and the place where the food is being eaten. According to Melsted, it helps to reduce distractions like televisions and radios because studies show that people who eat in front of a television eat more than those who dine with others engaged in typical dinner table conversations.

Another Sea to Sky person immersed in the world of food and health is Adam Hart, the author of the book The Power of Food.

He shares a three-step system for achieving weight loss. Under his system he promotes first changing nothing, second having an intention and his third step is getting support.

Before starting the three steps Hart says it is good for people looking to shed some pounds to reflect on how they got where they are and to understand their current situation.

"Think about what you can add in," says Hart of the first step he coaches his clients through.

He suggests eating normally but adding in some really healthy foods.

"Don't try and battle yourself further by trying to change everything in your life, but start thinking about some of the key things you can start adding in to help alleviate some of those struggles and battles when you can experience success that's meaningful," says Hart.

Step two is to write down and regularly look at the intention. If the goal is to drop 20 pounds he says write that down and look at it often.

"You need to write it down and you need to create a practice where you're visualizing what that looks like for yourself," says Hart.

The third step, in Hart's system, is to find support from people who have similar goals and work with that person or those people.

"If you want to get more active find something creative to do and find a friend who wants to do it with you," he says. Sometimes family and close friends aren't the appropriate support so Hart advocates finding someone who has the energy required to achieve success.

"It is tough to do on your own," he says.

If you made any resolutions around weight loss but find yourself slipping it just means something is missing for you. If your goals in these early days of 2012 are slipping instead of grabbing a bag of chips, opening a calorie rich can of sugar water and dropping into the couch you could choose to recommit to your goal and phone a friend to share your commitment then ask them if they'll get active with you and keep you on track with your goals.

With a little commitment you'll be finding yourself at the end of 2012 feeling and looking better than ever while ringing in 2013.

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